Shared Images

Jaws.  Monsters Inc.  Scarface.  Star Wars.  The Wizard of Oz.  The Godfather.  Psycho…

Powerful images with powerful stories.  Chances are that you’ve seen one or more of these movies with someone else; they were shared images.  And chances are that after seeing the movie you talked about a scene or two that stood-out in your mind.  I bet that vivid scene is still with you to this day – if only seen once.

When our eyes are open, our vision accounts for two-thirds of the electrical activity of the brain – a full 2 billion of the 3 billion firings per second – which was the finding of neuroanatomist R.S. Fixot.

And further, nearly ½ of our brain is involved in visual processing.  It’s the main reason infographics work so well; they associate an image with text or information.

  • Images are hugely impactful.
  • Shared images create conversations.
  • A conversation around shared images is where learning happens at higher levels. It’s where things like opinion, synthesis, inference, and evaluation thrive.

It doesn’t take a movie to create these opportunities.  For instance, something as simple pop-up books can do the trick!

As Garr Reynolds states:

There is loads of evidence that reading to children at bedtime is not only good for their emotional well being, it also has long-term benefits for their cognitive development. We have a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. Since they were babies they have been exposed to books. Bedtime stories are one of the great joys of parenting and is a nightly ritual.

I purchased Robert Sabuda’s The Night Before Christmas Pop-up in time for Christmas. The pop-up art is amazing and imaginative.

In the final two-page spread, for example, a snow-covered town pops up with Santa flying over the houses. My son will say something like “here is our house and this is our bed room window.” My daughter would then comment “here’s grandma’s house and here’s our school across the bridge.” I read each page, but we spend more time on questions and adding to the narrative before I move on to the next spread.

For our students, we can and should create the shared images upon which to reflect and have powerful conversations.

For each other, we can and should create shared images of exemplary teaching and learning to reflect upon and discuss.  Where are the iconic images of teaching and learning?  Can you name a few?

Let’s talk about it! You can reach me at

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